Flights of Faith

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Salt and Light Reveal Heaven and Hell

13"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

As some of you may know, salt was used to preserve meat back in the day. Light still shares its same purpose from Matthew's time 'til now. Preservers and Lighters. We are supposed to the carry the message of God, which makes all things new, and we are supposed to radiate in His light in order to attract others and not get cast into darkness ourselves.

What does this have to do with justice?
What does this have to do with judgement?
What does this have to do with Hell?


There is a logic we can use to derive Hell into existence. If there's a heaven... If God is good... Weren't we redeemed from...

It exists, and I acknowledge its reality.

However, we do not have to separate God's Love from His Justice in order to understand Hell. If we do, we take the risk of making Christianity like other world religions, which focus on the beginning and the end--not in the process of a personal Savior that we can listen to and obey, a personal Savior who IS the beginning and the end; but also, present right now.

God's Power and Authority give us freedom (Genesis 1:27-31; Genesis 2: 15-17). God's Love gives us boundaries (1 Corinthians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 8:9-13). God's Justice exposes and corrects our abuses to His boundaries. I think all three are intimately linked. God judges us because he loves us. Prophets were voices that were supposed to call people to God. And God's promise that there will be an end needs to be repeated as a prophetic call from all of us, so we don't fool ourselves into thinking this cycle of life and death will last forever.

Preservers and Lighters...what does that mean?

See, I'm of the belief that while the reasons of humanists, universalism, higher criticism, secular education might have something to do with the lack of belief in Hell. The biggest reason, in my opinion, would be the failure of Christians to preserve this Earth and shine Christ's light towards it.

How is that possible you say?

Because many people claim to be living in Hell right now. Just as you can logically argue that someone who believes in Heaven should believe in Hell, we can also logically argue that people who refer to their lives as Hell (even Hell on Earth) now, cannot have a proper understanding of what Hell really is.

And if we're called to preserve and to light up the world, then whose fault is that?
I'd say it's ours.

For some reason, our hope is not the current hope of the world as much as Jesus still remains our only hope. What's been lost in translation?

Is it the presence of a hell doctrine? Is it the lack of a hell doctrine? Actually, I think Hell is only a part of this problem.

If Christians cannot demonstrate the mercy shown on the Cross by Jesus, then ourselves and others cannot truly understand how we've been saved and what we've been saved from and what we've been saved into.

Don't get me wrong. Demonstrating mercy will involve Hell. But I guess I think that process might be less focused on the doctrine of Hell than on the real presence of Heaven and the real presence of Hell (discovered through the Word and the Holy Spirit acting in us) granting us a spiritual sight that can discern our priorities and can lead us to following the will of God. I think by invoking God's justice when He spurs us to do so, demonstrating mercy when we are sacrificing willfully, and by trying to love with all of the complexity and strength of Christ's love, we would connect to people's current locations of heaven (false pleasures? a place without fear? a place where they are recognized and appreciated?) and people's locations of hell (a sense of isolation? a state of immobility? a place of pain and suffering?) and show them Jesus, who gives us a CORRECT understanding of Heaven and Hell while giving us the security of an inheritance that shields us (1 Peter 1:3-9) and a command to resist the Devil and his ways (James 4:7).

It makes sense, right? If Christians are not fulfilling our God given description of being the Salt and Light of this world, then the world becomes that much more bleak, that much more gray, that much more indistinguishable from what Hell might be like. How can anyone understand the depths of Hell if not through grace? Jesus' grace and our echoes of it, the fulfillment of the commands He has given us (For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. Source: 2 Cor. 4:6) By fulfilling those commands, people will recognize Good and its absence.

13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear[b]; do not be frightened."[c] 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:13-16 (for context continue 'til the end of the chapter)

If we boldly present the life of Jesus in word and deed, people will feel the stinging dissonance of Christ's ways and the ways of the world. People will know where they can find us, followers of the true God. They will understand more the choice they have before them: life or death. They'll have understood it because we took mercy on them and their ignorance of words, of terms that have value for us. A value that might have been abused earlier in their life. Hell is a word. Separation from Jesus is a shiver that we should feel, that should connect us to God's love out of thanksgiving, and should be shared so others can see something new with us. We must work through ignorance because people's lack of belief in Hell almost certainly is related to their yearning for God. And we are the laborers who can make those connections through loving and respectful interactions through our belief in Jesus.

Lastly, I think about Jesus' messages to people. And I see a lot of his discussions of Hell as merciful warnings for those following him and enjoying him as a human teacher alone. Hell became a way for them to realize that Jesus is not another teacher; instead, He's their Salvation from the wickedness of this world and the potential emptiness they could face in the next. Then, I wonder who in my life is celebrating the fruits I've received through faith without knowing the vine where I derive my source of Life? While everyone should know and fear Hell because I think that it can only be done properly by knowing the Godhead, I think those people receiving my fruits from Jesus are my direct responsibilities. For those people, me telling them about Hell through the story of Jesus and acts inspired by Him becomes a merciful act instead of one that unleashes the wrath of God without His love to go with it, something I think Christians have done too often in our 2000 or so years of history. This is something that we've all got to figure out for ourselves in terms of witnessing and ministry but this is just my (hopefully) Jesus-inspired take on it as it relates to my life experiences and others I've known. Hope it adds something to the discussion.

Words from our Savior:

1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:1-6)



Blogger Danielle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:45 PM  
Blogger don said...


Since your post involved hell, which is my focus lately, I want to share some resources with you and the readers. Here is an article that I recently wrote which also includes the resources.

HELL??? NO!!!!

Dear fellow Christians,

I have some very good news that some of you may not have heard much if anything about.

First, do you believe in a place commonly called “hell” and commonly defined as a place of eternal torment for certain people?

If so, I want to give you something to consider and to re-think your belief. You see, I use to believe in a place of eternal torment. I no longer do.

Have you been troubled by the fact that you have some relatives or close friends or acquaintances that you thought were “going to hell”?

There are those who believe that some are going to hell and some to heaven and that it is predetermined and you can do nothing about it.

Then there are many who believe that if “they just came to believe in Jesus as their Savior in this lifetime” then they would be saved; otherwise they are destined for hell.

Has it troubled you that a loving all-powerful God would allow such to happen? Do you prefer to avoid even talking about this subject? Do you really know why YOU believe this doctrine? Do you believe it just because your church, your pastor, or anyone else you have trusted believes it? Maybe you have even read some scriptures that sure sound like they are threatening such a punishment. Do you believe it because you have seen this word “hell” in the Bible or even because Jesus used the word? Surely you know that this is an English word which Jesus would not have used because the English language did not even exist at that time. Do you know that there are several Bibles that do not even contain the word “hell” in them? They just have not been the “popular” versions. Christian bookstores mainly only order and sell “popular” items.

Have you ever hoped for some intervention, some influence, some event, to bring your friends and loved ones to Jesus?

If you believe in hell, what are you doing to save your relatives, friends, and people in general? Could this be a testimony to how seriously you take the eternal destiny of these people? If it were within your power to save the physical life of a loved one, would you?
What about their spiritual life???

I am asking these questions to get you to think seriously about this.

I have spent many hours reading and studying this matter for the last four years. As of yet, I have not established a web site to share this matter with you (although I do have a couple of blogs that I have just recently posted a few comments), but many have and what follows are several web sites which have gone to considerable effort to get this word out and I want to refer you to them. I don’t agree with every detail of what you will find there and you will find differences between the sites, but what you will find that they all agree on is that there is no such thing as the eternal torment of any human being (I extend this to all created beings), but rather that our loving Father did and/or will do whatever it takes to get all of humanity back home with Him. The following sites are a good start, but there are many more and many of these will link you to many others.

5:38 AM  

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